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Sexual and apomictic reproduction in Hieracium subgenus Pilosella are closely interrelated developmental pathways  [2003]

Tucker, M. Araujo, A. Paech, N. Hecht, V. et al.

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Seed formation in flowering plants requires meiosis of the megaspore mother cell (MMC) inside the ovule, selection of a megaspore that undergoes mitosis to form an embryo sac, and double fertilization to initiate embryo and endosperm formation. During apomixis, or asexual seed formation, in Hieracium ovules, a somatic aposporous initial (AI) cell divides to form a structurally variable aposporous embryo sac and embryo. This entire process, including endosperm development, is fertilization independent. Introduction of reproductive tissue marker genes into sexual and apomictic Hieracium showed that AI cells do not express a MMC marker. Spatial and temporal gene expression patterns of other introduced genes were conserved commencing with the first nuclear division of the AI cell in apomicts and the mitotic initiation of embryo sac formation in sexual plants. Conservation in expression patterns also occurred during embryo and endosperm development, indicating that sexuality and apomixis are interrelated pathways that share regulatory components. The induction of a modified sexual reproduction program in AI cells may enable the manifestation of apomixis in HIERACIUM: